The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

In Fish Farming, Profit Is the Catch

Jun 5, 2017

Aquaculture, fish farming, is supposed to mean progress, a technique that allows humanity to be nourished, with less risk to fishermen than fishing in the oceans.

Fish farming has grown largely due to technical “advances” of our era. Farmed salmon are packed together like the chickens grown in chicken houses, in commercial agriculture. These salmon are fattened up by injections of antibiotics, like those given to beef calves.

And this industry has become so concentrated that one company, Marine Harvest, from Norway, produces and sells 30% of all trout and salmon sold on the planet.

These huge farm fisheries use cages suspended in the ocean, huge structures with 20 MILLION pounds of salmon in one cage, or on boats containing two million live fish. The rejects, the diseased or malformed fish, the food not eaten, the pesticides, the antibiotics all get swept up by the waves.

This cheap method for cleaning the cages guarantees that pollution contaminates the surrounding waters. Look at how a home aquarium shows cloudy, dirty water in only a few days. Now imagine if the waste came from 10,000,000 salmon living on top of each other.

Chile, the second largest producer of farmed fish, saw a disaster in 2016 that killed off 23 million fish, about one sixth of the year’s harvest. These dead fish were dumped into the nearby coastal waters of the Pacific ocean. This pollution decimated the wild salmon nearby, and also thousands of smaller fish and shellfish in the whole area. It ruined the livelihood of thousands of fishermen.

Another problem of fish farming is that these salmon are fed meal made from wild fish. Huge trawlers pull millions of pounds of sea life from the ocean, including otters, seals and marine mammals that get caught in their nets, to make fish meal. For example, on the coasts of South America, the amount of wild fish harvested to make fish meal is THREE times the amount of farmed fish produced. So many small fish, like herring, sardines and anchovies, are turned into fish meal that the food chain is being destroyed, threatening the survival of both wildlife and the human population.

The oceans are so polluted that they threaten to poison the human beings who eat the fish. The fishing areas along coasts are wrecked, some fish populations have declined enormously and the poorest populations can no longer afford to eat fish.

Under the for-profit system, the promise of aquaculture is turned into a curse.